Career fairs are a great way to identify career opportunities, but your efforts shouldn’t stop when you remove your name tag and head back to your car. Here are four things you should do following the event to make the most of the connections you made and to increase your chances of success:
- Thank you notes. You should send thank you notes immediately following the career fair. Sending a thank you note to a recruiter provides you with an opportunity to get your name in front of them, remind them how wonderful you are, and reinforce your interaction. A good thank you note simply thanks the recruiter for their time and references any specific points of conversation. You can also include information about any further actions you will take (such as applying for an open position, or monitoring their website for future openings) or request that they keep you in mind for new opportunities.
- Submit your application. Job seekers often ask why they need to apply to positions if they have already met the recruiter and provided a resume at the job fair. It is important to understand that every business has its unique processes and system, and an online application is usually a necessary part of the employer’s process. Applying to a position officially makes you a candidate for an opening, and puts your information into the recruiter’s system so they can further review and act upon it.
Before applying to a position, read the job requirements carefully and pay particular attention to which attributes are required and which are preferred. Apply only to positions you qualify for. If a qualification is listed as preferred, then you will have some leeway in meeting it, but required means there is likely no flexibility with that item.
When applying for positions with an employer you met at the career fair, remember to reference the fair in your cover letter or appropriate application field. This will remind the recruiter of your prior interaction.
- Follow up. If you expected to hear from an employer and haven’t after a reasonable length of time (typically expect to wait 3-4 weeks or some other time frame they indicated at the event), it is OK to politely follow up with a brief email restating your interest and asking about the employer’s decision timeline.
- Prepare for next steps. While you wait to hear about the status of your application, now is a good time to begin preparing for interviews. Re-assess your current skills, abilities, strengths, interests, and work values. Re-examine accomplishments and achievements, and get comfortable talking about them. Think of some stories that demonstrate your achievements and can be used to show all those hard-to-measure qualities like judgment, initiative, teamwork or leadership. Ideally, you should have three or four good examples of your work experience firmly in mind that can be adapted to answer a variety of behavioral-based interview questions.
To help you prepare for future interviews, visit CareerQuest to begin using UMUC’s two interview tools, Quinncia and InterviewStream. Quinncia uses artificial intelligence to personalize the interview to you, and provides feedback on your interview’s content, body, language, facial expressions, and tone. InterviewStream provides users the opportunity to practice answering common interview questions based on pre-prepared interviews, or customize your own from a database of thousands of interview questions.
Career fairs provide a great opportunity to learn about companies and connect with recruiters, but that is just the beginning. Job hunting is a process for job seekers and employers so it’s important to work your process and keep building upon your career fair efforts with an effective follow-up plan. Never underestimate the power of saying “Thank you,” apply to any and all positions you are interested in, don’t be afraid to follow up, and practice and prepare your responses for future interviews.
Best of luck and, as always, remember that UMUC Career Services is here to support you. To access our tool, advice, and job board, or to connect with a career adviser, please visit CareerQuest.
Ann Martin is a career advising specialist at University of Maryland University College where she has worked for more than five years. She holds a master’s in mental health counseling from Bowie State University. As a mid-life career changer, she feels uniquely qualified to assist adult students in transforming their lives and finding their place in the workforce.